Each of the hundreds of different dog breeds has their own unique looks and personalities. Some are so different that it’s hard to imagine that they’re classified in the same family — a topic we tackle below.
No matter how different they may seem, like other domestic dogs, they descend from wolves. For this reason, you’d expect some breeds to be wolf-likein appearance, sure. But there are some breeds that more closely resemble bears, or hyenas, oreven leopards. So we thought it would be fun to make a list of the least dog-like dogs.
Shall we begin?
This short-legged dog is a rare breed. The Swedish Vallhund began its life, working as a cattle drover and herder. Those same short legs were useful to the dog since they kept it from getting kicked while it was working.
It’s fur, the upright ears, and elongated muzzle put one in mind of a grey fox. Swedish Vallhunds have feisty personalities and adorable faces. Additionally, they perform well in different dog sports, including obedience and agility. If you want a good companion dog, this vulpine pooch is it.
Find out about other breeds that look like foxes!
Louisiana Catahoula Leopard
An intelligent breed, the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dog possesses striking looks. Part of their name — Catahoula — is Indian for clear water, which seems well-suited when one looks at their blue eyes. The reason for the other bit — leopard — becomes clear when you observe the colored patches on their fur.
Catahoulas have strong muscles and deep chests. They received these traits courtesy of their genetic makeup. To breed the Catahoulas, American and Canadian farmers combined Greyhounds, native American dogs, and Spanish Mastiffs. The resulting dog is great at hunting and guarding.
Because of these features, the Catahoula has a lot of energy to burn and doesn’t do well in a low-activity environment. Otherwise, these intelligent pooches can become destructive. We would caution against keeping this breed in close quarters with unfamiliar dogs. While they will be gentle and loving towards your kids, Catahoulas aren’t tolerant of other pets and can even become aggressive, given the wrong circumstances!
Huskies and Alaskan malamutes might look similar. But the Husky is much more familiar to even non-dog owners as compared to the Malamute. Like the smaller Husky, Alaskan Malamutes were bred to pull sleds and hunt polar bears. They’re certainly big enough to undertake both those tasks.
Belying their size, though, is the playful nature of the Malamute. You’ll find them to be lovable and very trainable. Like Huskies, Malamutes have a lot of energy to burn. They are also big shedders, so expect your home to be under constant attack from thick layers of fur!
Malamutes are another wolf-like breed, which is why they ended up on our list.
Tervs have a spot on our list because of their wolfish appearance. They are so wolf-like that they played wolves in the movie, The Company of Wolves.
But what are Belgian Tervurens? Originally, they were herding dogs with a strong work ethic. Tervs take their name from a village in Belgium. Now, you’ll see them as part of the K9 units in police and military units. That’s because these dogs are:
Even though they are medium-sized dogs, they can grow 26 inches tall and amass 75 pounds in weight. The same qualities that make them perfect for the K9 unit make Tervs hard to train. That said, you’ll love your Terv for its sense of humor and affection. Just make sure you plan lots of activities to keep it busy.
Another wolfish entry on our list, we owe the Tamaskan’s existence to Finland. Like huskies, this yellow-eyed beauty is also a favorite because of their tenacity. To successfully function as working dogs, the Tamaskan makes full use of the following features:
- Lanky, compact built for agility and strength
- Long legs
- A laid-back attitude that focuses on work instead of dominating the others
Tamaskan are great with children and other pets. Being openly affectionate, they will smother you with kisses and provide on-demand snuggles. Just don’tlet yours remain on their own for more than 3-4 hours. Otherwise, they will abandon their mellowed outlook on life and bring on some destruction!
Tamaskans are exceptionally well at completing physical challenges. Just make sure yours always has some work to burn that excess energy.
You can guess what got this breed its name. The German city, Leonberger, is the birthplace of this huge, leonine, and extremely friendly pooch. They only look scary since they behave in a very controlled manner. Therefore, if you want a scary-looking beast that’s anything but, this lion lookalike is for you.
Leonbergersmake great family pets and approachable and friendly, even towards strangers and young people. However, one deep-throated bark from them can certainly dissuade an intruder. Their barks have the same power as a lion’s roar.
Besides shedding concerns—there’s one other caveat in adopting Leonbergers. Since they’re quite full of energy, you’d have to plan moderate strength physical activities for these hulking beasts.
We know. This unique-looking creature resembles no wild animal alive. But like another surprise entry on this list, we just had to include the Bedlington Terrier. So, why does this pooch look so ovine and alien-like? That’s because it was bred to hunt vermin in mines. In that regard, it has the energetic disposition and intelligence that it needs to complete the job. Because the Bedlington didn’t need to look — or be — fierce, it displays a milder non-terrier-like disposition.
Small and innocent-looking it may be, but the dog can fight and hunt. It will also bark its lamb-like head off if you don’t train it properly.
Another role that is fit for a Bedlington Terrier is participating in races and various dog sports. It’s great at both. So, if you keep an active home, this pooch is a good choice for you. You might want to take your water bug swimming too because they love the water.
Additionally, the Bedlington Terrier does well with other pets and kids.
Peruvian Inca Orchid Dog
Like the Catahoula, the Peruvian Hairless Dog is another leopard lookalike. Oddly enough, not all pups in a litter will turn out not to have hair. Some of them will be hairy while the others look like the fellow in the picture.
In a word, the Peruvian Inca Orchids are adorable.
Ha! Another surprise entry, and this time, it’s a fictional character we’re going after. If you’ve seen the ever-popular and extensive Star Wars franchise, you’ll see how the Brussels Griffon looks like an Ewok.
Just like their fictional counterparts, the Griffons are teddy-bear-like. They have a rough coat that sheds, so don’t adopt one if you cannot handle that. Other than that, you’ll love living with this sturdy and playful toy breed. And it’s not just because of the Ewok looks it has. Brussels Griffons also love spending time with their humans. They’re a great canine companion for humans of all ages!
Bush dogs are natives of the Amazon basin. One of the things that makes Bush dogs so different from the other breeds is their hyena-like appearance. Darkest as puppies, their fur lightens up as they reach adulthood. Fully grown bush dogs are long-haired with soft brownish fur that has red highlights. The red’s present on their heads, necks, and backs. They reach up to 55-75 cm and don’t weigh more than 9 kgs.
Due to their stealthy nature, you’d have a hard time spotting a bush dog — at least, in the wild. They’re total water freaks being extraordinarily good at swimming. Unfortunately, these dogs are on the endangered list.
Are you looking for a dog that looks like a horse? Then meet the German mastiff known as the Great Dane. The Great Dane is a working dog and has the size and substance to take on bears, deer, and boars. Great Danes can be 44″ tall — almost as big as a small horse! They move almost as beautifully as they are built.
Named after the breeder who first crossed European wolves and German Shepherds, the Saarloos wolfdog is quite wolfish. They are very distantly related to other breeds of domestic dogs. Just look at their facial expressions and lupine build to see why.
Even though they are a hybrid mix, the Federation Cynologique Internationale recognizes them as a distinct breed. Like most wolf-hybrids, the Saarloos do what it pleases. They are affectionate, smart, and wilful enough to go their own way. Because of this, it is not recommended that first-time owners adopt Saarloos.
Want to check out other dogs that look like wolves? Then watch this video:
Here, we bring you another leonine breed, i.e., the Newfoundland. Unlike most other pooches, a Newfoundland loves to swim. They can back up their love of water with great swimming ability.
Besides swimming, these gentle and giant canines also make great working dogs. For instance, fishermen put them to work, pulling nets for them. Similarly, they will carry wood for you from the forest. And so on.
Somewhat surprisingly, Newfoundlands are stars of obedience school. It’s also why they’d make a good family dog for you. What’s more, they will befriend kids and strangers alike.
Only adopt this giant if you have space for it. That’s because a male Newfoundland can weigh 130 to 155 lbs and grows up to 26 to 30 inches. The females, too, aren’t pygmies in any way. They will amass 100 to 120 lbs and grow to be 25 to 27 inches. Usually, Newfoundlands will keep you company for 8-10 years.
Long-haired Chihuahuas bear striking resemblances to tiny fennec foxes. You’ll find they occur in the following coat colors:
They reach 5-8 inches as adults and weigh no more than 6 pounds. They’re as smart as a fox, too —look at that alert expression. So, you’d need to tire them on both mental and physical levels to keep Chihuahuas happy.
When you bring one home, they will become attached to the family. Chihuahuas are protective of their humans and are apprehensive of strangers and other pets. Socialize and train your Chihuahua early and often.
Silver Wolf Pomeranian
From Germany and Poland come the Keeshonds and Wolf Sable Pomeranians. Toy dogs — as evident by their size — they have gray undercoats. But they don’t exactly have canine faces. Instead, they remind one of the dark, shaded, and furry faces of Indian Langur.
Simian in appearance or not, they can be playful and intelligent dogs. However, they can be barky and snappy if not properly socialized and trained. In any event, don’t expect them to be good at guarding or with small children.
They might not be a dog per se, but the tanukis are members of the canid family. They resemble both dog and raccoon. Oh, and they don’t bark. Instead, they growl.
You’ll find tanukis in Asia, living in a small group or pairs. As fathers, male tanukis will help their mates. Whether it is bringing food or raising the young, these canid papas do their job!
Sadly, many tanukis lose their lives to fur-sellers in China and Finland. Not only that, their fur is sold in the guise of other species.
African Wild Dog
Known to be the largest African canine breeds, African wild dogs are also the most dangerous. When not in captivity, they hunt in packs. Even more alarming is that they are excellent hunters and cover 37 mph! Their jaws and muzzles might not have the strength of the animals they resemble, i.e., hyenas. However, they’restill strong!
African wild dogs can reach 30 inches in height when fully grown and amass a 55-70 pounds weight. Their coat is a patchwork of three different colors, i.e., black, yellow, and dark brown.
You may be thinking you’re looking at a polar bear, but these mighty canines are only dogs. Moreover, the Great Pyrenees may weigh over 100 pounds, but they are as gentle as they come. And, even if they can be 32 inches tall, these pooches are calm creatures.
Additionally, you’ll love how family-friendly these dogs can be. Depend on the Great Pyrenees for companionship, loyalty, and even guarding duties. They won’t let you down! After all, their ancestors fought thieves, wolves, and bears in the mountain ranges of the same name.
Why do we consider different breeds of dogs to be the same species?
Indeed, the pooch occupying the couch in your living room is a direct descendant of Canis lupus — the grey wolf. Nonetheless, the genetic contributions of many other types of wolves are also a part of their makeup.
Over the years, though, dog domestication ensured that our pets change behavior, morphology, and physique. Moreover, compare any two drastically-different looking species, such as the Chihuahua and the Great Dane. You’ll see how specialized the breeding processes have been that got us these results.
Just for fun, imagine an alien trying to digest that the Chihuahua’s fossil records and the wolves have anything in common! All that to one side, even the differences we see in dog breeds aren’t sufficient to make them different species. They may have been with us for 16,000-40,000 years, but dogs are still too young from an evolutionary viewpoint.
A new species comes to the forefront after hundreds of thousands of years of evolution. The changes it undergoes must also be inheritable, i.e., passed down each generation. Hence, it is too early to consider the breeds of dogs as separate species.
Dogs aren’t the only wild creatures that man reached out to with domestication. Read about other animals and their wild ancestors here.
Some of the entries are frightening-looking and impressive. Others, not so much — yes, we mean the Bedlington Terrier and the Brussels Griffon. Nonetheless, inside them beats the heart of a canine. And we all know that’s made of gold! So, whether your fur baby looks like an Ewok or a hyena, it’s your job as a dog parent to love them and pamper them. We hope you’re doing that already!